Journalist Michael Wolff ceased to take questions during a television interview after he was challenged on his allegation that U.S. President Donald Trump was carrying on an extramarital affair, citing audio issues. Wolff, author of a controversial expose on the Trump administration, has been criticized for implying that Trump was sleeping with U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley (video below).
On Feb. 25, Wolff sat down with the Australian morning program “TODAY” to discuss his best-selling book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
“You said during a TV interview just last month that you are ‘absolutely sure’ that Donald Trump is currently having an affair while president behind the back of the first lady,” queried host Ben Fordham. “And I’ll repeat, you said you were ‘absolutely sure.’”
Wolff, who had been receptive to Fordham’s questions throughout the interview, suddenly said that he could not hear the host.
On Jan. 19, Wolff stated during an interview with HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” that Trump had an ongoing affair in the White House.
“There is something in the book that I was absolutely sure of, but it is so incendiary that I just didn’t have the ultimate proof. … I didn’t have the blue dress,” Wolff said.
The author said that readers could ascertain the identity of Trump’s alleged mistress during the final passages of his book. Following those bread crumbs, social media swiftly deduced that Wolff was referencing Haley.
On Jan. 26, Haley condemned the accusation and accused Wolff of maligning her career accomplishments.
“It is absolutely not true. … At every point in my life, I’ve noticed that if you speak your mind and you’re strong about it and you say what you believe, there is a small percentage of people that resent that and the way they deal with it is to try and throw arrows, lies or not,” Haley told Politico.
Wolff subsequently faced questions over whether or not he could back up his accusation and if he had unfairly impugned Haley’s professionalism. On Feb. 22, the author admitted during an interview on Dutch television that he was not absolutely certain the president was having an ongoing affair.
“I will just clean this up. … I do not know if the president is having an affair,” Wolff said, according to The Washington Post.
The author added that he did not include the allegation in his book because he never had concrete evidence.
Fordham pressed Wolff on the comments, noting that the reporter originally said that Trump was absolutely cheating on First Lady Melania Trump.
“Just last week, though, you backflipped and said I quote, ‘I do not know if the president is having an affair.'” Fordham continued. “Do you owe the president and the first lady an apology, Mr. Wolff?”
Wolff responded that he could not hear the question and the interview swiftly sputtered to a halt. Fordham expressed disbelief that there was an audio issue.
On Feb. 25, TODAY’s Twitter account followed up on the interview by clarifying that there were no technical difficulties.
“We’ve got an update for you on our interview with [Michael Wolff],” the program tweeted out. “Footage from our London studio would suggest that there were no audio problems and Wolff had no problem hearing [Ben Fordham]’s question!”
Trump has been accused of cheating on the First Lady with two women: adult film actress Stephanie Clifford and Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Trump allegedly carried on an affair with McDougal between 2006 and 2007, shortly after his wife gave birth to their son, Barron Trump, The New Yorker reports.
Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid Clifford $130,000 during the 2016 presidential race. On Feb. 16, Clifford announced that she would speak freely about her alleged affair with the president because she believed Cohen had invalidated a non-disclosure agreement, according to The Hill.
Sources: The Hill, The New Yorker, Politico, Real Time with Bill Maher/YouTube, TODAY/YouTube, The Today Show/Twitter, The Washington Post / Featured Image: Financial Times/Flickr / Embedded Images: Financial Times/Flickr, TODAY/YouTube